Spain: The Holiday Exchange Cooperative, which launched recently in Barcelona, is aiming to become the world’s first social economy home exchange platform by making it easier and cheaper for people to ‘exchange’ homes.
The co-op’s strategy is to use 50 per cent of surpluses to fund social and solidarity economy projects, while 25 per cent of it will go back to members through lower membership fees.
At the same time, The Holiday Exchange Cooperative is pledging to promote responsible and environmentally-friendly tourism via the home exchanges.
Under the plans, users will be required to pay a registration fee that allows them to access the platform and make secure exchanges over a one-year period. Active users can also become members of the co-op, which says it will not transfer any user information to undisclosed third parties.
The secure technology platform will provide a number of home exchange options, including houses, apartments, boats, caravans and motor homes, while car swaps are also possible.
Users can choose between direct exchanges, which involve allowing each other to use their homes / cars as and when they wish, or indirect exchanges, where a user is welcomed by a host for a one-way exchange, and they can return the favour to other users as well.
One of the platform’s founders, Mariana Vilnitzky, said: “The Holiday Exchange Co-op could be a wonderful tool for co-operators around the world. Through home exchanges we can meet people in situ, like visiting co-housing communities or eco villages.”
Vilnitzky added that holiday exchanges would be ideal for families as children can share toys between them.
The motivation for setting up the platform co-op, she said, stemmed from growing disappointment with the concentration of platform ownership within the sector, including the sharing of data by smaller platforms without influencing how the business is run.
The Holiday Exchange Cooperative is now in the process of raising startup capital to build and develop its exchange platform.
The group is currently registered as an association but will soon convert into a multi stakeholder co-op in which employees will own 40 per cent of shares, with the remaining shares split between individual members and potential investors, who can have up to 25 per cent of voting shares as per the laws in Catalonia.
Those interested in the project can register interest and sign up to receive updates from the co-op here.